Friday, September 25, 2009

Houses and Homes

My parents' home is a little 912 sq ft structure built about 1940 on a 1/4-acre city lot. The houses on either side are rebuilds. One, formerly the twin to this one, is on its 3rd rebuild -- bulldoze down, start over from scratch. It's 2 stories and about 6000 square feet. Ben, Maria and their mostly-grown sons there. On the other side is something that looks a lot bigger but is actually only about 5000 sq. feet -- with 7 bathrooms. Chuck and Debra live there.

We were invited to a "party" at Chuck and Debra's last evening. They entertain a lot, complete with valet car parking (someone else runs the cars around the neighborhood looking for parking places). As it turns out, their home appears to be not so much a home as a place to do large-scale entertaining and fund-raising. The centerpiece is the pool. It used to be in the front yard. Now it is practically in the living room. It is surrounded on two sides by covered lanai (with an outdoor kitchen and bar at one end), the driveway/gated entry, and a stone wall fronting the street. Assuming their lot is 75' like my parents, the house must be 50' wide. Dead center in the house, and stretching a good 30', is the kitchen. It is an open plan, with a workspace-counter on the great room side, backed by more counter and cabinet space. There are built-in wall ovens on the right, a hallway on the left. All is charcoal granite and teak from Bali. It is not a kitchen for 2 people, nor is it a kitchen that a family would ordinarily use. It is a showpiece, designed for impressing guests while food is prepared by a rent-a-chef.

Last night's show was geared to the under-35 set, an effort to get them to vote, volunteer, and make commitments to socially conscious programs. Sustainability. That's a buzz-word you hear a lot in Hawaii, the most isolated island group on Earth. Voter registration. Mass transit. Affordable housing. I find it a bit ironic that Chuck, who preaches affordable housing in his professional life, lives in a multi-million $$ home that came in way above budget because they kept sending the wrong teak from Bali. Or the shipments were delayed because --- well, they were delayed. A definite do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do approach to life.

I wonder if Chuck knows anyone who will provide grant funding to remodel a pair of 50-year-old bathrooms so the church they are attached to can provide reasonable toilet/shower facilities when they open their one-week-quarterly shelter for homeless families. I need to ask.

Give thanks for the reality check on the lives of "the other half". Give thanks that someone is out there beating a drum in the ears of whatever follows Generation X. Pray that eyes were opened, ears re-tuned to hear, and hearts inspired to care about something, someone else. Keep praying ....

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